Working In or On the Business?

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One doesn’t have to look hard to find publications to help the new or established small business owner as the continue their journey to take their small business from its infancy to thriving. This, of course, is not an easy task although some, in the interest of encouragement, may attempt to convince you that it is.

Well meaning new business owners will make an extraordinary amount of mistakes when growing their business. Luckily, most of the most mistakes are small and are easily remedied but there may be one large scale mistake that could have large scale negative impacts on the long term growth of your new business startup.

In any sporting event, there is the acts of offense and defense. On offense, the team tries to score more points or otherwise advance their position in the game. A good offense knows that leaving the team in the same state as they were, no matter how good, is generally a failure.

The defense keeps the team or individual from moving backwards. Probably the one thing worse than not gaining anything positive for the team is losing something already earned. The defense makes sure that nothing is lost and if it is, questions must be answered.

Small business owners often take part in an action that hurts their business growth: They only play for the defense. The business is new and every entrepreneur knows that cash has to start coming in as quickly as possible or the business will fail so they go straight to defense. They work as hard as they can for whatever money they can get the customer to pay. They become the one employee for the business because they don’t think they can find any help that they can afford, and at the end of the day, they take a (very small) break and do it all again the next day. This often becomes a failing business model.

You have to play for the offense too. Examples of playing for the offense include networking. Go to chamber of commerce events, reach out to friends who also own businesses, make some calls to businesses who may be interested in what you do, set up a computer system to help you track your sales calls, or make business cards.

Another great offensive play is to register your business. Giving your business a name and putting a designation like “LLC” behind it may give it a little more notoriety. Hire a part time employee who can work from home making sales calls on your behalf.

There’s no doubt that a large part of a brand new business is playing defense but remember that actions with a lasting impact will grow the business much more quickly. Work IN your business but also work ON your business. Balance your time between your owner duties and your employee duties.